Canadian police are holding an investigation into whether an independent federal candidate committed a hate crime by telling school students that gays and lesbians should be killed.
David Popescu spoke at a federal candidates’ discussion at Sudbury Secondary School yesterday, before over 200 students. On the same day, Greater Sudbury police began an investigation, according to the Toronto Sun.
Mr Popescu gave a short speech as he introduced himself, blaming economic turbulence and pollution on human immorality.
Towards the end of the discussion, students were allowed to ask questions. One student asked Mr Popescu what his stance was on gay marriage, to which he replied that he thought all gays should be executed.
He later reiterated this view in a telephone interview, saying:
“A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed.
“My whole reason for running [for office] is the Bible and the Bible couldn’t be more clear on that point.”
Mr Popescu also claimed that “God would hurt” women who had an abortion, in response to a question about stem cell research.
Despite protests from students, the candidate was allowed to continue. The headmaster of the school, Paul Camillo, said:
“We’re here today to hear what the candidates have to say.
“As an inclusive school, we respect all other opinion although we may not agree with them — and I know there were definitely some things said today that we don’t agree with.”
Local advocate for the Sudbury Gay and Lesbian group Gary Kinsman expressed concern over Mr Popescu’s comments. He said:
“He’s not simply saying that lesbians or gay men are mentally ill or somehow deviant or criminals.
“He’s saying we should be subject to the death penalty.
“I think sometimes violence and hatred towards gays and lesbians gets dressed up in sort of a religious guise and is somehow tolerated.
“I just don’t think it should be tolerated at all.
“There are lots of young people in high schools in Sudbury who are struggling with their sexualities.
“Often times, it’s pretty hard time for them; to say something to young people is pretty terrible.”
Mr Popescu has received attention before for his religious views.
During previous elections, he has claimed that popular music shops “promote satanic music” and that natural disasters are punishment for human sins.
Mr Popescu has also distributed self-made videos during his previous election campaigns. In 2003, he gave out a video of some of his sermons, which the Sudbury Star noted contained anti-gay messages.
In one of these video sermons, Mr Popescu claimed that “God burnt five homosexual cities alive, including women and children, as an example of what we are supposed to do to them.
“Instead, our evil government gives them rights.”
Mr Popescu has appeared in court prior to this investigation.
In 2003, he was found guilty of assault on his elderly mother, sentenced to three years’ probation, and requested to undergo psychological assessment.